The capital of the Old Dominion is a great place for retirees with pets. Richmond extends a warm welcome to dogs at many local parks and natural areas, at dozens of restaurants with pet-friendly outdoor seating areas, and at local farmer’s markets, shopping centers, and even an art gallery.
Richmond-area senior communities that welcome pets
In and around Richmond are more than 2 dozen assisted and independent living centers that are happy to accommodate people with pets. Among them are Brookdale Imperial Plaza, which is less than a mile from Joseph Bryan Park, and Dogwood Terrace, a short drive from Deep Run Park. Options in the suburbs surrounding Richmond include Elmcroft in North Chesterfield and Morningside at Bellgrade in Midlothian.
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Outdoor spots to stroll with your dog
The Virginia capitol grounds are open to leashed pets, although pets are not permitted inside the buildings. Among the area’s dog parks, centrally located Barker Field in Byrd Park gets high marks from visitors because it offers several acres of fenced play space for dogs plus shade and bench swings for people. Ruff House Dog Park, in southwestern Richmond, has areas for large and small dogs near the walking trails in Rockwood Park. Ruff House also hosts annual holiday events — Howl-A-Woof has canine Halloween costume contests, party games, and snacks, while Santa Paws gets pups into the winter holiday spirit.
Getting into the swim of things
When it’s too hot to romp outside, or when your dog has health issues that make walking less comfortable than swimming, Richmond’s Alpha Dog Club offers indoor swim lessons, private swims, and Pool Buddies open swim times. Member dogs swim for free on their birthdays. Trained canine swim instructors help dogs get comfortable in the water, while Red Cross certified teachers train humans in pet first aid and CPR.
Out on the town with Fido
One of Richmond’s most popular farmer’s markets, the South of the James market offers fresh local produce, handcrafted items, and the quasi-legendary Mrs. Yoder’s Donuts in a dog-friendly setting in Forest Hill Park. South of the James is open Saturday mornings year-round. You can check the market’s blog ahead of time to see what’s in store each week.
When it’s time for window shopping or a new outfit, the upscale Stony Point Fashion Park welcomes leashed dogs in the common areas as well as in shops that display a dog-friendly decal in their windows. Elegant water troughs are found throughout the center alongside pet cleanup stations.
Big shows for dog lovers
Art lovers will enjoy the annual Dog Days of Summer juried all-media show each August at Art Works gallery on Hull Street. Works depicting dogs (and cats) are on display; to add to the festivities and raise funds for a local pet charity, there’s a silent auction and a dog fashion show featuring adoptable models from the local shelter.
Dog lovers can also check out Virginia Kennel Club’s events and community work. The club hosted its debut First Colony Cluster of Dog Shows in June with more than 1,500 participating dogs over 4 days. The club also works closely with regional charities and local emergency responders to support their K9 staffing and dog-care needs.
From art and commerce to quiet walks in the park, Richmond offers lots of ways for seniors and pets to stay active and social.
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